In 1995, Massachusetts revised its list of those reptiles and amphibians that require a permit to possess in captivity. This revision is the first since the list was written in the 1970’s, with the help of the Massachusetts Herpetological Society. The New England Herpetological Society was instrumental in the revision of the list – many animals commonly captive bred were removed from the list (for example, Bearded Dragons and Leopard Tortoises).

The lists available below are a combination of the new Permits List and the Massachusetts list of endangered, threatened, or special concern species (which only deals with species native to Massachusetts). Other animals that also require a permit are those that are listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, and those species listed in the Red Book of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). For example, although not listed here, Galapagos tortoises would require a state permit.

Permit applications can be obtained from the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife at 100 Cambridge Street, Leverett Saltonstall Building, Room 1902, Boston, MA 02202. Their telephone number is (617) 727-3151. Two types of permits are available: a permit to possess a single animal, and a permit for multiple animals (necessary for captive breeding). Permits are renewed on a yearly basis, for a small fee (per permit, not per animal). Permits are relatively easy to obtain for animals that are captive-bred (if they aren’t already exempt) except in the case of venomous species. For rare, imported, or endangered animals, permits are issued on a case-by-case basis; if you want to work with an endangered species for example, it helps if you have a lot of experience with related, non-threatened, species. A number of members of the New England Herpetological Society possess permits for many different animals. Ask around at a meeting for more information if you are interested.

The revised regulations were circulated to Massachusetts pet stores in August of 1995.

The only animals you can take out of the wild in Massachusetts are certain reptiles and amphibians (321 CMR 3.05). You can keep these animals as personal pets, but you cannot sell, barter, or exchange them. You can have 2 of each of the following animals:

  • American Bullfrog
  • American Toad
  • DeKay’s Brown Snake
  • Eastern Garter Snake
  • Eastern Newt
  • Eastern Racer
  • Eastern Red-backed Salamander
  • Eastern Ribbonsnake
  • Fowler’s Toad
  • Gray Treefrog
  • Green Frog
  • Milksnake
  • Mudpuppy
  • Northern Dusky Salamander
  • Northern Two-lined Salamander
  • Northern Watersnake
  • Painted Turtle
  • Pickerel Frog
  • Red-bellied Snake
  • Smooth Greensnake
  • Snapping Turtle
  • Spring Peeper
  • Wood Frog

Turtles as pets

Turtles you can have as a pet Turtles you cannot have as a pet
  • Painted Turtle
  • Snapping Turtle

Amphibians as pets

Amphibians you can have as a pet Amphibians you cannot have as a pet
  • American Bullfrog
  • American Toad
  • Eastern Newt
  • Eastern Red-backed Salamander
  • Fowler’s Toad
  • Gray Treefrog
  • Green Frog
  • Mudpuppy
  • Northern Dusky Salamander
  • Northern Two-lined Salamander
  • Pickerel Frog
  • Spring Peeper
  • Wood Frog

Snakes as pets

Snakes you can have as a pet Snakes you cannot have as a pet
  • All species of boas & pythons (family Boidae), regardless of size, except rare species and those listed as unlawful
  • Shield-tailed snakes, sunbeam snakes, and others in families Uropeltidae and Xenopeltidae
  • Snakes of the family Colubridae:
    • Asian rat snakes (ElaphePtyas, and Zaocys species)
    • Trans-Pecos Rat Snake (Bogertophis subocularis)
    • Brown and Redbelly snakes (Storeria species)
    • Diadem snakes (Spalerosophis species)
    • Garter and ribbon snakes (Thamnophis species)
    • Glossy snakes (Arizona species)
    • Gopher and pine snakes (Pituophis species)
    • Green snakes (Opheodrys species)
    • Ground snakes (Sonora species)
    • House snakes (Boaedon species)
    • Kingsnakes and milk snakes (Lampropeltis species)
    • North American rat snakes (Pantherophis species) except the Black Rat Snake (Pantherophis alleghaniensis)
    • Mole Snake (Pseudaspis cana)
    • Puffing snakes (Pseustes species)
    • Texas Indigo Snake (Drymarchon corais erebennus)
    • Tropical rat snakes (Spilotes species)
    • Water snakes (Nerodia species)
    • Western Hognose Snake (Heterodon nasicus)
    • Green tree python (M. viridis)

Lizards as pets

Lizards you can have as a pet Lizards you cannot have as a pet
  • Most skins, including Solomon Island Prehensile-tailed Tree Skink
  • False club-tailed lizards
  • Girdle-tailed lizards
  • Plated lizards
  • Rock lizards
  • Most teiid lizards, including Jungle Runners and Tegus
  • some lacertid lizards
  • Most lateral-fold lizards, alligator, and legless lizards
  • All geckos except rare species and the Big Bend Gecko
  • Several iquanids including
    • Basilisks
    • Collared & leopard lizards
    • Common (Green) Iguana
    • False Iguana
    • New World chameleons
    • Spiny lizards
    • Tree & bush lizards
  • Some agamid lizards including
    • Water Dragon
    • Bearded Dragon
    • Frilled Lizard
    • Uromestyx
  • Most night lizards
  • Spiny-tailed (Ridge-tailed) Monitor
  • Most true chameleons
  • Bearded Lizard
  • Gila Monster
  • Any monitor lizards except the Spiny-tailed (Ridge-tailed) Monitor
  • Solomon Islands Ground Skink
  • Any lizard not listed to the left
  • Federally listed lizards

Crocodilians as pets

You cannot have any crocodilian species in your possession in Massachusetts. This includes

  • Alligators
  • Crocodiles
  • Caimans
  • Gavials
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